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The Late Train

In spring, when trees draw leaves from their sleeves
the subway tunnel is crisp and cool
New perfume in ancient nostrils
like when you’re nineteen and every friend is a genius
every woman an unbearable beauty

Summer rolls in and the train’s breath
is the inside of a prostitute’s knee brace
Winter is burning chapstick, the lining of some troubled stomach
Wet sweet smells of something alive but not quite right

The express roars past caves where dinosaurs shot heroin
The local blinks dirty doorjambs on the throne room
the slaughterhouse and the sanctum

The late train forgives more than we can muster
and patiently demands an answer beyond the faith misplaced
in STEM courses for reformed prophets
in wealth, youth or health

Ghosts shuffle aboard in clothes they didn’t choose
Like everyone who’s excited to be here, they’re bad news
Living men wear coats embroidered with insignias
of armies that would never accept them

This Door is Locked For Your Safety
But believe what you want—it’s still locked

A skeleton-raw woman
eats Tupperware salad at midnight
and scratches imaginary mites from her scalp
allowing time to continue, the infants to draw breath
the doors to open and close



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Colin Dodds is a writer. His work has appeared in more than 250 publications, been anthologized, nominated and shortlisted for numerous prizes, and praised by luminaries including Norman Mailer and David Berman. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife and daughter. See more of his work at